What are Ovarian Cysts?
Ovarian cysts are growths that form inside or on the ovaries. Ovarian cysts are very common and may not cause any symptoms. They are discovered incidentally during a wellness pelvic examination or when symptoms such as pain, pressure, discomfort, frequency of urination, bloating, constipation, or pain with sex occur.
Examples of Ovarian Cysts
- Functional cysts: These cysts are the most common among reproductive aged patients which form during the normal menstrual cycle. Typically they occur when a follicle (sac where the egg grows and matures) does not release the egg properly and fluid accumulates. Additionally, when an egg is released as it is supposed to, a corpus luteum cyst may remain until the next cycle. This is a normal cyst that should resolve on its own.
- Dermoid cysts: These cysts are common in women aged 20-40 and are generally non-cancerous. They comprise of multiple kinds of tissue including teeth, hair, or fat.
- Endometrioma: A characteristic cyst of endometriosis
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): this hormonal imbalance may create multiple small cysts but generally they do not require any surgery or medication but may help in diagnosing the condition and managing its symptoms
- Cancer: rare in reproductive age patients, more predominant in postmenopausal or adolescent patients
Diagnosis of Ovarian Cysts
Your doctor will diagnose ovarian cysts by performing a pelvic examination to identify any swelling on the ovaries. Additionally, an ultrasound may be ordered to help detect the location, shape, size and mass of the cyst. A pregnancy test helps rule out pregnancy, and hormone levels are tested for any hormone-related problems. Your doctor may also order a blood test to check for cancer.
Treatment for Ovarian Cysts
In many cases, ovarian cysts disappear without treatment. Treatment is recommended when cysts do not go away on their own, grow larger, or are causing symptoms. Oral contraceptive pills may be prescribed to stop ovulation and the formation of new cysts.
If conservative treatment options are not successful, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cyst.